A little respect for bad dancing

I am bad at a lot of things. Cooking, cleaning, telling stories, math – basically everything my mum wishes I was good at.

But there are some things that are just fun to be bad at. Singing is one of them. (How can karaoke actually be fun when you can’t croak and crack your way through a Mariah Carey song? )

And then, there’s dancing.

I’m a bad dancer. No sense of rhythm at all. When I go for my Body Step or Body Combat classes at the gym ( I should really use past tense for this. Gym hasn’t happened in a while), I literally spend a lot of the time just standing still in the middle of the room, while everyone else’s limbs seem to be cooperating with each other.

Meanwhile, I just look confused as I stare at my arm and mentally chide it: “Arm, why must you always move in the same direction as Leg?”

When I’m at a club, or at a music festival though, I don’t care. My fingers are pointing up at the ceiling (or sky), my feet’s moving (probably not in sync with the music), I’m singing along (badly) to the words of the song, and usually, my eyes are closed.

I tend to dance with my eyes closed because I want to feel like I’m alone in the room. It’s a euphoric feeling.

I want to feel alone in the room, because I do not want to feel embarrassed that my feet is not moving to the right beat, that my hips don’t lie as well as Shakira’s – and oh gosh, what do I even do with my ass?

I want to sing as loudly as possible, with one hand clutching my chest as I belt out the (wrong) lyrics and the other just pointing at random things. (Kim Jong Un and I are probably meant to be).

But when I watched the clip above from HBO’s now-cancelled series Looking, I remembered thinking: “How nice would it be to simply badly dance with another person without fear of being judged?”

I loved this scene when I first watched the episode two years ago. Andrew Haigh (Weekend) directed this episode, and man, he is a genius at portraying intimacy. I love how we can hardly spot Patrick and Richie at first, and then the camera moves slowly toward them, and ah, there they are. We get closer, eye-level almost. I feel almost privileged to observe this moment between them. This 51-second long moment.

Patrick (the non-bearded one) is dancing off-beat, jumping about unfashionably, and singing out loud without a care in the world – basically doing exactly what I would do. Except that he is directly looking at the object of his affection. He dared show his dance moves in front of Richie! And he’s not embarrassed! HOW does he do it?

Emotional intimacy, with a romantic partner at least, is something I’m admittedly not that familiar (or comfortable) with. It’s scary sharing a part of myself with someone else – whether it’s sharing my (very very very) bad dance moves, singing, or even something as simple as telling someone how I felt about my day.

So many questions start swirling around in my head. Is he listening? Does he care? Is he bored? Should I stop? Will he judge how I can never dance to the beat – or how I can’t rap in time? Is there even a point to this?

But I am learning that sometimes it’s best to not overthink things. Live a little, they say.

I always feel super happy whenever I revisit this clip. Firstly, it’s because it’s hella romantic. And secondly, it’s because, if Patrick can do it, so can I! (I identified with Patrick a lot in the show because he is also not entirely experienced with love, very naive, lacks self-awareness, and has a general tendency to be an idiot. That’s me).

I’m not there yet, but I believe that I too will soon be able to dance, with my eyes wide open, as I look into his.

Till then, I’ll practice my moves.


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